Sonos Now Playing with Alexa Groups

  • 17 December 2018
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I have have setup groups within the alexa app and have sonos speakers as the preferred speaker in each room that has a sonos speaker. Commands to play music work as advertised with automatic grouping and ungrouping of the sonos speakers. I am not getting any ducking (lowering of audio volume) when issuing "alexa" commands to the echo in each room.I have sent you a PM demonstrating an example Alexa group.Hope it may help you to get things working. It explains the three different working sections of an Alexa Enabled Group.

Thank you Ken. I was missing section #2 (only added sonos as preferred speakers and not as devices). Things are working now. Thanks again.
I have have setup groups within the alexa app and have sonos speakers as the preferred speaker in each room that has a sonos speaker. Commands to play music work as advertised with automatic grouping and ungrouping of the sonos speakers. I am not getting any ducking (lowering of audio volume) when issuing "alexa" commands to the echo in each room.I have sent you a PM demonstrating an example Alexa group.Hope it may help you to get things working. It explains the three different working sections of an Alexa Enabled Group.

Thank you Ken. I was missing section #2 (only added sonos as preferred speakers and not as devices). Things are working now. Thanks again.
No worries RonJ103, glad you managed to sort it.?
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Can't believe I'm stumped as this seems pretty straightforward. I have 3 rooms created in Sonos, each consisting of a pair of Play 1's as well as a Zoneplayer. Per the attached screenshots, I've created an Alexa group called "everywhere". A playlist voice command will play on whatever the last speaker configuration was (doesn't select all). Volume commands impact only one room. Really looking forward to controlling all rooms (everywhere) so thanks in advance.
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Hey seanej, is there an Alexa enabled device added to that group or is it just the 4 Sonos speakers? The players should group up assuming you don't have any active music playing in one of the rooms.

Also, what utterance are you using with Alexa for controlling the playback and volume?
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Thanks for the reply Ryan. Just ran a bunch of experiments and then reread your post - if active music playing is an issue, I'll need to redo my experiments tonight and let you know how it goes.
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Thanks for the reply Ryan. Just ran a bunch of experiments and then reread your post - if active music playing is an issue, I'll need to redo my experiments tonight and let you know how it goes.

I think what Ryan's getting at primarily is that the group you have setup will only be used specify 'everywhere' (the name of your group) as a target. So you would need to say something like 'Alexa, play Tom Petty on Everywhere', and then it should play music to all four rooms/zones.

If you intended to set this up so that whenever you ask for music from a specific alexa-enabled device (say an echo dot called 'kitchen'), then you would need to add that alexa-enabled device to the group under the top section, ALEXA-ENABLED DEVICES. Then when you speak that device "Alexa, play Tom Petty", alexa should recognize that you want to play to your 4 zones by default.
Thanks for the reply Ryan. Just ran a bunch of experiments and then reread your post - if active music playing is an issue, I'll need to redo my experiments tonight and let you know how it goes.Ryan is (mainly) saying that from your screenshots, that it looks like you need to 'Alexa Enable' your group. It appears no such devices are shown as being listed in your group, well at least none are visible in the screenshot you uploaded.

I would therefore look to 'enable the group' in your case. You can use either a Sonos and/or Amazon compatible device to do that.

You can in fact add several such 'controlling' devices to the first section of the group, if necessary, but each one can only be used 'once' across all your groups. So if the Alexa device that you require is 'greyed out' & not selectable, then you may want to remove it from one of your other groups first, to then install it into this group.
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As my screenshots indicated I created an Alexa Group called Everywhere which consisted of 4 Sonos devices: Kitchen Sonos, Living Room, Media Room, and TV Room Sonos. All 4 were also added as Preferred Speakers. Today I added my Living Room Echo as the Alexa Enabled device and tested with the command "Alexa, play Tom Petty everywhere". I made sure no music was playing and the rooms were not grouped in the Sonos app.

The Alexa response seemed appropriate but music would not play in all rooms. I also tried variations like a group called Ground Floor (instead of Everywhere) and fewer Sonos rooms but it still didn't work. I have to wonder if Alexa has a problem with the names assigned to my Sonos rooms so I guess I'll give that a go.

Really do appreciate everyone's help and I will absolutely keep following this thread and this forum!
As my screenshots indicated I created an Alexa Group called Everywhere which consisted of 4 Sonos devices: Kitchen Sonos, Living Room, Media Room, and TV Room Sonos. All 4 were also added as Preferred Speakers. Today I added my Living Room Echo as the Alexa Enabled device and tested with the command "Alexa, play Tom Petty everywhere". I made sure no music was playing and the rooms were not grouped in the Sonos app.

The Alexa response seemed appropriate but music would not play in all rooms. I also tried variations like a group called Ground Floor (instead of Everywhere) and fewer Sonos rooms but it still didn't work. I have to wonder if Alexa has a problem with the names assigned to my Sonos rooms so I guess I'll give that a go.

Really do appreciate everyone's help and I will absolutely keep following this thread and this forum!
Your Sonos room names look fine to me, so I don’t think it’s that. Ground Floor also sounds fine as the group name.. note it can take a minute or two to work.

So goto the living room echo dot today and try the voice command 'Alexa, play some music' and see if it now works. Your preferred rooms should group together in the Sonos App and begin playing some random playlist.

Note you only need to add the group name 'Ground Floor' to the instruction in order to break your preferred speakers out of a much larger group, so that’s if your preferred speakers were all grouped together (manually) already with some other speakers in your home. As you do not have any others, (presumably), you should never need to use the group name in your particular case.
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Ok, made some progress I believe. Using my Echo Plus (1st gen) as the Alexa enabled device does not work. Perhaps this is due to its age as I purchased this when they first came out. Using my new Dot (3rd gen) as the Alexa enabled device does work if the Group name is Ground Floor. For some reason, the Group name Everywhere does not work even with the Dot. By "work", I mean, issuing the voice command "Alexa, play some music" results in all rooms grouped as desired and music playing throughout.

Volume commands still only impact one room so that's still a swing and a miss.

I will test some more tonight but I'm fairly confident going with my new Dot and the Ground Floor group name is the ticket (at least for the grouping issue).

Thanks again for your persistence.
Ok, made some progress I believe. Using my Echo Plus (1st gen) as the Alexa enabled device does not work. Perhaps this is due to its age as I purchased this when they first came out. Using my new Dot (3rd gen) as the Alexa enabled device does work if the Group name is Ground Floor. For some reason, the Group name Everywhere does not work even with the Dot. By "work", I mean, issuing the voice command "Alexa, play some music" results in all rooms grouped as desired and music playing throughout.

Volume commands still only impact one room so that's still a swing and a miss.

I will test some more tonight but I'm fairly confident going with my new Dot and the Ground Floor group name is the ticket (at least for the grouping issue).

Thanks again for your persistence.

I think volume controls using voice control and the speaker hardware buttons operate on one room only and only the Sonos App itself has "Group Volume" control features at the moment.

Not sure if this is a limitation of the Alexa syntax, or if they (or Sonos) intend to do something about this issue in the future.
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I think volume controls using voice control and the speaker hardware buttons operate on one room only and only the Sonos App itself has "Group Volume" control features at the moment.

Not sure if this is a limitation of the Alexa syntax, or if they (or Sonos) intend to do something about this issue in the future.


The group volume control thing is what was really driving me so appreciate the info. Guess I'll wait until Alexa/Sonos work something out.
The group volume control thing is what was really driving me so appreciate the info. Guess I'll wait until Alexa/Sonos work something out.You can still control the volume of each Sonos Room using voice control, hardware buttons, or the App, in the same way that it has always worked.
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You can still control the volume of each Sonos Room using voice control, hardware buttons, or the App, in the same way that it has always worked.

yeah, but I'm really lazy
yeah, but I'm really lazyThis link below should help you with that issue, I hope:?

Help for those who help themselves
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Pretty cool but clicking on the link was more work than I'm used to
Pretty cool but clicking on the link was more work than I'm used to ha ha fair enough. 😃
Hey all,

I’ve got a stereo pair play 1 named lounge and a one named kitchen. If I ask Alexa to play music in lounge or in kitchen, it works. I also have an Alexa group set up called “everywhere” with kitchen set up as the Alexa device in section 1, lounge added as a device in section 2, and both kitchen and lounge in section 3 as preferred. The result is that if I ask Alexa to play music everywhere, both the kitchen and lounge group in sonos app and play music. So all good so far.

The 2 issues I have are:
1. when playing music everywhere, if I call out “Alexa...” it ducks the kitchen but not the lounge.
2. I can’t seem to ungroup then regroup. If when playing music everywhere...
- I ask Alexa to play music in the kitchen (or lounge), nothing changes, it keeps playing everywhere
- I ask Alexa to pause lounge, it continues playing in the kitchen (or vice versa). Great. But if I ask Alexa to play music everywhere again, it just keeps playing in the kitchen.
- I then ask Alexa to play music in the lounge, it plays different music to that playing in the kitchen.
- the only way I can “regroup” - ie get both kitchen and lounge to play what is playing in kitchen, I need to stop music playing in kitchen, and ask Alexa to play music everywhere again.

This is really annoying as all I want to do is get the music that is playing in the kitchen, to then also play in the lounge (or vice versa), rather than having to stop the playlist I’m listening to, then restart it again everywhere. Is this possible?

I have attached screenshots of my everywhere group.





Thanks,
James
jb0101 (James)

In section 1 of your Alexa Group called 'Everywhere' you have your 'Alexa Enabled' device ... this should be the Alexa part of your Sonos Speaker or/and an Echo device that you wish to use as the controller, can you confirm in your case this is called 'Kitchen'?

In the section 2 you only have one speaker showing in your screenshot called 'Lounge', where is the other speaker? ... if you want every speaker to duck you must add them all to this 2nd section... I assume you have not added the Kitchen speaker part (that is separate to any Alexa device) think of your Sonos One speakers as having two separate components ... one part is an Alexa component and the other is a Speaker component.

Hope that is of some help to you ?
Hi ken,

Yep Kitchen has the sonos one and is the Alexa controller.

The second section I can’t see how to add kitchen and lounge, it will only let me add lounge. How do you add more to the second section? If I click on the second section (ie where it says lounge), it just gives info about lounge. If I click on edit at the top of the group screen, it shows this where I have both kitchen and lounge ticked:



The odd thing for second section is that based on your comments if this section shows lounge only, then only the lounge should duck volume, and not kitchen because it’s not in the second section. However kitchen is the only one that ducks, lounge doesn’t.

Having said all that, I’m much less concerned about ducking and much more concerned about question 2 in my post above that I’ve called “grouping and ungrouping”. I’m using the word “group” here how sonos uses it, which enables you to change between which speakers are playing music without needing to stop and restart the music.
jb0101,

There is something wrong here with your Alexa devices, in the Alexa App. Have you ever deleted and/or renamed your devices because the speaker part of your Kitchen seems to be missing?

I understand that 'Lounge' is a pair of the older Play:1's and Kitchen is a new Sonos One with 'Alexa'.. I hope I have that correct?

Lounge is looking fine.

Kitchen however should have several parts to it, including an Alexa Device and a separate Speaker Device... for some reason the Kitchen speaker is not there. I am only seeing your Alexa component in your screenshot.

My guess is you may have deleted it at some point in the past, or called them both Kitchen, perhaps?

Do you recall (possibly) ever doing that in the past?
In fact I’m wondering if there is perhaps a potential software 'bug' here .. in the Alexa App 'devices' section, there should be several separate device entries for the Sonos One .. unless Amazon have recently changed something here???

One device (had or has) the 'speaker icon' next to it ...and another device entry has either an 'echo dot icon' next to it ...and I think a third entry has like a 'WiFi symbol inside a circle' icon ... just wonder if you see those entries for your Sonos One Speaker?
It actually used to show the little echo dot icon, but asking Alexa to play music to the group of speakers wasn’t working so I deleted the group and signed out of Alexa app, then signed back in and created the group again. Don’t know if that stuffed it up?
I think there are now just the two Alexa icons for a Sonos One Speaker from what I can see in my own settings... I have a Sonos One Speaker, which I named 'Ken's Sonos One' for the Alexa part of the device and that has a 'WiFi icon' (see screenshot 1)

In addition to the above, the same Sonos One (Speaker component) is called 'Hallway' in the Sonos App and it has the same device name in the Alexa App with a little icon of a speaker. (See screenshot 2)....

You seem to be missing the one half (component) of your device and I think that’s where your issue is here.

I think if you can resolve this matter, it will fix all your problems including the grouping/ungrouping/ducking issues that you have mentioned in your original post.

What I’m not understanding is why your second component did not reappear in the Alexa App when you reinstalled your Sonos One device. Could you have perhaps deleted or renamed the components since you reinstalled the speaker?

Hope that helps you a little more to get to the bottom of these issues?
jb0101

I think I’m (perhaps) getting a 'tiny bit' closer to matters surrounding your Grouping issue here... it looks to me like Sonos/Amazon have perhaps just begun to make some changes to the Sonos One device in the Alexa App and are maybe trying to make it show just as a single device in that App ... Note this is just a possibility and thought on my part..!

The issue I have with this, if indeed this is the case, is that the remaining single device can currently only be used/added to Groups as an 'Alexa Enabling' device, (or 'Group Congroller') in the first section of an Alexa Group, presumably that choice has been made because the device will automatically 'duck' its audio in any case, whenever a user speaks an instruction to it.

However, I am currently seeing an issue with this possible new feature and that is when you go onto add other speakers to the middle (2nd) section of the same 'enabled' Group, those additional Sonos speakers are no longer ducking their Audio... it’s almost like they have Alexa Enabled the speaker component, rather than the Alexa component part of the speaker... well that’s my initial train of thought at the moment.

It could also just be a case that you have stumbled upon a piece of work 'still in progress' here by Amazon (and Sonos) and that the work (behind the scenes) is perhaps not yet complete.

I have reported some of these issues to Sonos and we may have to wait and see if this is 'by design', or an ongoing piece of work etc. around these new 'Alexa Grouping' features.

By the way, it looks like It not only applies to the Sonos One devices, but it looks like these things are also affecting the Sonos Beam too.

I personally thought it was a little easier for users when there was a component device for the 'Alexa' part and a component device for the 'Speaker' part of a Sonos One and Beam ...and the Alexa part was used to enable/control a group and the Speaker part was used to add to the 'middle' and 'preferred' sections of an Alexa Group to 'Duck' its audio and to play music on the speaker.

A single 'combined' Sonos device can, and undoubtedly will, still go onto do the same thing as two separate Sonos device components in the Alexa App, but like I say at the moment it is not (presently) ducking the audio of other speakers added to the middle section of the same group... so my theory is this may turn out to be a piece of work that Amazon is still to complete.

We shall have to wait and see. Meanwhile I hope that helps you to understand why you are perhaps presently encountering the issues mentioned with your own system and the new Alexa Grouping features.

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